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All Sizzle, No Steak: Rock Shocks, but
Armageddon Still Looks to Suck Ass
December 8, 2003

by The Rick
Undisputed Lord and Master of OnlineOnslaught.com


See what happens when you don't have the Rock going around doing interviews in support of an upcoming movie?  He doesn't have a chance to tell anybody that he's thinking he might crash a live RAW next time they pass through southern California.  Not only does that mean that when the guest spot has to be undone, fans aren't all whiny and bitchy, it means that if it DOES go down, we're all more than a little shocked and surprised.

Honestly: when La Resistance was threatening Foley last night, my mind nimbly leafed through its virtual rolodex to figure out who'd make the save.  My mind did pause, but only briefly, on The Rock's card before realizing there was no way they'd have been able to keep that secret from me.  My mind eventually decided to settle on Hurricane and Rosey, with Steve Austin as my Dare to Dream Scenario.

So I was suitable shocked and awed when the Rock DID end up coming on down.  As it did with Foley's return last week, RAW got a boost from a genuine, bona fide Holy Shit moment.  It cast an aura over the whole night.  But in the end, was that enough to render RAW a successful pre-PPV show?

Read on and learn....

Video Package: The Story of Mick Foley's Surprise Return is told in 2 minutes flat, just in case you missed it last week.

Opening theme/pyro/etc., leading to a few quick words from your hosts Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler (who waste no time reminding us that the World Title is on the line tonight, Kane vs. Goldberg).  And then....

Love Rhombus IX: Bet or Joke, the Explanationing

Chris Jericho and Christian hit the ring, each carrying a dozen red roses. And sure enough, before they win the Tag Team Titles from the Dudleys (it's next!), they want to talk directly to Trish Stratus and Lita.  Or at least, Christian wants to go stand in a corner while Jericho talks to Trish.  Chris says he's been trying to call her, leaving her messages, everything, and she won't respond... he wants to know what he could have done to have earned that sort of treatment.

Luckily, both Trish and Lita are here in the building, and pick this moment to come on out to the ring.  Jericho again asks what's wrong, why isn't Trish talking to him?  Trish merely produces one shiny Canadian dollar, and Jericho understands.  "The bet?  Oh come on, Trish, you can't think we were serious!  You know us, we're jokers," is Jericho's main thesis.  He admits the joking around was probably in bad taste, but insists that's all it was.  When this is clearly not working, Jericho changes gears and tries, "You know us, Trish, and you know ME.  You know the chemistry we had.  You know I could never do that to you.  I respect you too much.  I think about you all the time."  Basically the same sort of last-resort-of-a-not-very-clever-man drivel that struck me as hokey/heelish when Jericho busted it out on the night of the First Kiss.  And this time, it didn't work: when Jericho moves in to give Trish's face an ever-so-gentle-and-loving caress, she pulls away.  And when Jericho makes one last plea for forgiveness, when he and Christian hand the bouquets of roses to Trish and Lita, the girls have heard just about enough: Trish slaps Jericho square in the face.

Christian swoops in and tries to shove Trish away, but Lita's right there.  Before you know it, Trish and Lita are pummeling away on Jericho and Christian, using the roses at first, and then doing some general open handed flailing while Jericho and Christian just cover up and try to weather the storm.  But that doesn't last for long, and Jericho and Christian decide to fight back.  Jericho has Trish by the hair when Bubba and D-Von Dudley pick that moment to make an entrance.  Jericho and Christian back off as the Dudleys storm the ring...  the tag title match is NEXT!


The Dudley Boyz vs. Vitamin C (Tag Team Title Match)

Tag title match?  Who cares?  Upon returning from the break, the first order of business is establishing that Trish and Lita have decided to hang around at ringside.  The match, meantime, started during the break, and is in progress.  Good stuff leading up to a hot tag and rally by Bubba: he tosses Jericho and isolates on Christian, hitting the BubbaBomb.  But Jericho yanks the ref out of the ring (hard) to stop the three count (and to incapacitate the ref for about 90 seconds).  Jericho hops in the ring, but D-Von is recovered, and before too long, Bubba and D-Von have the upper hand, and have slammed Christian and Jericho in the middle of the ring, their privates, conveniently, aligned with opposite turnbuckles.  Trish and Lita don't need a picture painted, and get up on the top rope, and hit the double Whassup Headbutts on Vitamin C.  Lawler, to his credit, makes no joke about how much he'd pay to have Trish diving face first into his crotch; I'm sure it injured him severely to restrain himself.  Jericho writhed in pain into a corner, while Christian foolishly got to his feet and walked directly into a 3-D just as the ref decided he was well enough to start paying attention to the match again.  Clean pinfall win when Bubba pins Christian after a very entertaining, very hot 5-6 minutes or so.  After the match, Jericho has apparently been busted open, and it's not clear what he's thinking: some co-mingling of anger and disappointment is my best guess.  A final camera shot of Trish leaves no doubts, however: she gives us her best "Take that, jerko!" face.


Backstage: we are blessed and fortunate enough to visit Evolution's locker room, where Ric Flair kicks things off with a few comments about how Triple H is here, but he won't be dirtying his hands tonight.  He just wants to sit back and watch as Goldberg and Kane go at it tonight, and then he'll swoop in and win the title Sunday.  Randy Orton, Master of Segues, notes that HHH won't be the only one winning gold on Sunday, because he intends to take RVD's IC Title.  Batista, not wanting to feel left out, jumps in and says, "That's if RVD even makes it to Sunday, because I get to fight him next and I'm going to break him."  Or something like that.  It continues to amaze me just how generic and unmemorable Batista, the Personality, manages to be every week.  Flair wraps it up by saying that at Armageddon, Evolution will go three-and-oh (so I guess Batista must also have said something about Shawn Michaels that made no impact on me).  Alright, guys, hands in the middle, and GOOOOOOOOO-OOOOOO TEAM!

Elsewhere backstage: Jericho and Christian storm into Bischoff's office, and Jericho blurts out "Did you see what those bitches just did?"  Or something like that.  He said "bitches."  Bischoff tells them to cool down, he'll figure something out, but first, he wants to know if they really made a bet to see which one of them could bed Trish or Lita first.  Jericho sort of gets a pensive look on his face and starts, "Well, it start..." But Christian cuts him off with a shouting tirade about how OF COURSE it was really a bet and he was gonna win, dammit, cuz he was so close and then it all got norsed up.  Bischoff loves the filthiness of it all, and has an idea how the two can get their revenge: at Armageddon, we will get Eric Bischoff's Battle of the Sexes, with Christian and Jericho facing Trish and Lita in a tag match.  Christian, who apparently subscribes to the philosophy that if you can't sleep with a girl then the second best thing to do with her is to administer a brutal beating, cannot contain his glee and enthusiasm at this idea.  But Jericho's face clouds over a bit.  He manages an unconvincing "Yeah, that sounds great" as Christian pulls him out of the office, making it clear that for all his calling Trish a "bitch" in the heat of the moment after getting his balls pasted and losing the tag titles, he's still got some other things going on in his head...  Hmmm.  This storyline, which started the second week of October with Jericho saving Trish just to show-up misogynist Steve Austin, then became an on-going storyline because it clicked with fans, then slowly became more and more intriguing, and then took a turn for the anticlimactic last week, seems to have at least re-instilled the aspect of Ambiguity that has made it so fun to talk and speculate about for 2 months.  Not nearly as bad as I might have feared after last week.  Not by a long shot.


Rob Van Dam vs. Batista (Non-Title Match)

This was basically the standard "Power Heel vs. High-Flying Face" mad-lib that you've seen filled in scores of times, without too many particularly memorable or interesting noun, adverb, or Proper Name choices selected by RVD and Batista.  Hot start for RVD, then after about 2 minutes, Batista takes over for most of the rest of the match until RVD made his big comeback.  It got a bit off-kilter at that point, not tight at all, but they brought it all back for the end game, which was a ref bump (another sloppy-ish spot, actually), a rally by RVD, then RVD going up to the top rope for a Five Star, then Flair knocking him off with a stiff punch to the jaw, and then Batista following up with a powerbomb for the pinfall win.  Love the Non-Title Goodness!  Maybe a bit overlong at 8 minutes, and maybe a bit sloppy at the end, but I think the thing you should take out of this match is that Batista, for all his generic forgetableness as a personality, did a credible job as the big, bad in-ring heel against the smaller opponent here.  That might bode well for Sunday, when he'll have to have the same kind of match against a similar opponents... and will be asked to go even longer than 8 minutes in the process.  OK, so maybe "bode well" is too strong a phrase...  but it's something.  Isn't it?  No?  Oh, OK... 


Team Green (Jindrak and Cade) vs. Lance Storm/Val Venis

Hoo boy, the Cade vs. Storm Battle for the Name Lance can't be too far off, now, can it?  Cade, before the match, does a quick 30 seconds of mic work, recapping their recent achievements and insisting that no matter what the fans think, "We are winners, not whiners!".  Venis and Storm hit the ring with two of LA's Most Off-Duty Strippers, and action commences.  Nothing memorable here, as it's short and formula.  King spends the match talking about "the one on the left."  JR spends it talking about the Tag Team Turmoil match (which is now back up to six teams since nobody actually got fired last week).  But nobody spent much time talking about the actual match, which ended cheaply when Jindrak rolled Venis up out of nowhere, and then used a handful of tights to secure the win.  Less than 3 minutes: harmless, but not exactly a big plus segment either.

Backstage: Kane is sitting around, talking to himself, I guess... we catch him mid-sentence, and are treated to a story about how when Kane was a kid, he and his neighbor's dog just didn't get along, so Kane killed it, dragged it into the woods, and then visited it to see the maggots and vultures destroying the carcass, because doing so made him happy.  Somehow, Goldberg's title reign is like that dog, and the fans are like the maggots crawling all over it, and Kane wants to end the title reign because that will make him happy.  Wow.  In one 2 minute vignette, they managed to my interest/belief in Kane's world title aspirations and reduce them to below zero.  I can't believe that this was Kane's first real chance to talk about why he suddenly started going after Goldberg three weeks ago, and that this is the best they could come up with.  Why must world title storylines keep coming back to Violence Against Puppydogs?


Big Surprise Theatre

Mick Foley hits the ring for a mid-show promo...  as co-GM, he says his job is to make sure the right thing gets done.  And when he thought about the right thing at Armageddon, he realized that it would NOT be "right" if Ric Flair somehow interfered in the Randy Orton vs. RVD IC Title match.  So, in order to make sure the right things happens there, he has assigned a special guest referee... himself.  Hmmm... I wonder if he remembers that it was Randy Orton who threw him down some stairs back about 5 months ago?

Second order of "right-making": the Steve Austin re-instatement petition.  Foley says over half-a-million people have signed it already, and that he hopes they can get even more.  But before Foley can continue, La Resistance marches out.  They say that since Foley humiliated them last week by trying to make them to the Pledge of Allegiance, it is their turn to humiliate Foley this week.  They do a diatribe about how much better France is than the US, and say that this week, they will have Foley salute their French flag, or else, they'd beat him up, French-style.  Foley said he's got nothing against the French, likes French Fries, French Toast, and even French's Mustard, but there is no way in hell La Resistance is going to intimidate him into saluting the French flag. Right here. In Anaheim. Which is part of the USA.  Cheap pop.  So he tells La Resistance to just bring it on if they really want a fight.  La Resistance circles around and backs Foley into a corner... and just when things are looking bad for Mick....


Rock makes a surprise appearance, getting a huge monster pop as he hits the ring.  La Resistance has decided this is not the best time to beat the shit out of Mick Foley, but they do stick around in the ring, too.  Rock grabs a mic, does the "Finally" bit, and then takes a look around.  He knows Mick Foley.  He knows The People.  He knows JR and King.  He knows Lillian Garcia (and her insatiable love of strudel).  He even knows Potsie, the cross-dressing camera man.  But he does not know these other two guys in the ring.  So he invites them to drop some knowledge on the Rock.  "Just who in the blue hell are you two French popcorn farts?" he asks.  Of course, when they attempt to answer, we are informed by the Mighty Rock that it fails to matter who they are.  If you didn't see this one coming down Fifth Avenue starting as soon as Rock mentioned that he knew Mick Foley, please report back to Second Grade.  And I mean the slow class.  La Resistance, I'm looking at you!

From there, it's just vintage babyface Rocky.  The kind of stuff that is special and fun when you only get it once every six months.  Also the kind of stuff that I probably can't do justice to without doing a complete transcription.  Which I'm not gonna do.  So just take my word for it: for about 10 minutes, Rock just ran his mouth and made La Resistance look like chumps with often hilarious results.  Then, when Mick finally jumped in and made some remark about how you don't mess with the "Sock and Rock Connection," Rock was distracted.  He paused to turn to Mick and correct him... which is when La Resistance decided to try a low-down dirty back attack.  It worked for about 30 seconds.  And then, Rock happened.  Dupree ate a Rock Bottom.  Conway got a spinebuster and a People's Elbow.  Dupree decided to come back for more.  So he got a little Mr. Socko, and then, for good measure, a spinebuster.  And then, Rock deferred to Mick, who hit a People's Elbow of his own.  To close out the segment, Rocky took Mick's clipboard and signed his name to the Stone Cold petition, and then posed for a bit while JR had a Near Aneurysm Experience, shouting about how it's surprises like this that make RAW the "WWE's flagship show."

You know what?  Who cares that this accomplished almost nothing of substance (unless, that is, the Orlando fans on Sunday remember to chant "Fifi" at La Resistance)?  This was amazingly fun.  Mick and Rocky and two chump heels and 15 or 20 minutes... that's a recipe for Pure Gold, baby.


Backstage: Coach and Bischoff are chillin', you know, just kickin' it...  Coach says he hates to say it, but Rock showing up sure was one hell of a surprise.  Bischoff says Yeah, he guesses so...  but he likes surprising people, too.  So tonight, the Kane vs. Goldberg main event will be...  a Lumberjack Match.  A Bischoff's Choice of Lumberjacks Match, that is.  The dastard.

Booker T/Hurricane/Rosey vs. Mark Henry/Scott Steiner/Test

No Stacy, which King, of course, notes with disappointment.  JR has no information, but theorizes that maybe it has something to do with a change in Test's contract related to his almost firing last week, as WWE (a week after I pointed out the inconsistencies) has to deal with anomalies caused by last week's careless booking.  In the match: Rosey gets out fast, and then tags in Hurricane, who promptly morphs into the babyface in peril.  That sets up a Time Condensed Hot Tag (probably 2 or 3 minutes into the match, which just feels a little off) to Booker T.  Booker cleans some house, does the Spinaroonie, and is setting Test up for the Scissors Kick... but that's when Henry gets back on his feet and levels Booker with a shoulder tackle.  Hurricane eats some power move or another.  And finally, Rosey charges, and Henry hoists him up for a spinebuster.  JR wants us to believe Mark Henry is the most dominant wrestler in the history of time and space as we take this break in the action to watch some...


Six Man Action, continued

Booker's still legal for the faces as we come back, and is in trouble.  After a minute or two, we settle in with Henry in the ring for the heels, and he goes into a series of about three consecutive chinlocks that Booker keeps having to hulk out of.  This is beyond pointless, but Scott Steiner is providing some excitement for the live fans (I'm assuming it's something Michigan/Rose Bowl/BCS-related for the Southern California crowd) and is getting booed out of the building by just standing on the apron.  Good for the Southern Cal crowd.  Does nothing for me, though.  Normally, my understanding is that rest holds are useful and appropriate when you want to set up the "power up" that leads to a comeback or a hot tag, but in this case, Henry's rest holds on Booker just led to dead-end power-ups and more heel domination.  Steiner came in to the match, briefly, and opted not to use restholds (instead, his Waste of Time Move was taunting the crowd with push-ups and stuff like that to big heat).  Test came in and picked up where Henry left off: putting Test in a bear-hug.  Resthold, rinse, repeat.  Finally, after this baffling five minute stretch of boredom, Booker hot-tagged Hurricane. Hurricane managed to chop Test down, and then knocked Steiner and Henry off the apron, setting up a few near falls on Test.  But it didn't last: the heels got back up and swarmed into the ring (causing the other faces to jump in, too), and Test managed a comeback of his own.  In the chaos, Booker, Rosey, Steiner, and Test managed to powder out, leaving Henry (who never legally tagged in) in the ring with Hurricane.  That quickly led to Henry hitting yet another bearhug; this time, Hurricane threw in the "rag doll sell" (as perfected by Terri Runnels lo those many years ago), and the ref stopped the match. Submission/KO win for the bad guys.  

After the match: Henry didn't want to release the hold, but Booker eventually came to and tried to make the save.  Didn't work out.  He ended up getting the "World's Strongest Slam" (a/k/a My #3 Worst Wrestling Move of the Year) for his troubles.  Heels celebrate, and JR is still trying to convince me Mark Henry is awesome.  The only thing I'm convinced of was that this could have been a perfectly passable little mid-card match, except that they turned it into a 12-13 minute affair, spanning a commercial break, easily earning the title of Most Unnecessarily Long Match of the Week.  Like I said, I like to think I'm enlightened enough to understand the time and place for rest holds, but I'm just smark-ish enough that the three chinlocks and four bearhugs and whatever else we got just didn't fit the bill for me.  Instead of serving the well-being of the match, it mostly just seemed like "Well, that's what Mark Henry can do, so you have to watch it."  Which stretched the match out and left my mind wandering a bit.  This is a guy who likes the in-ring wrestling, and here I am saying this is a time when they should have shaved about 5 minutes off the match and it would have been better for it.


It's All For a Good Cause: WWE is holding a press conference to announce "Operation Care Package" tomorrow (well, today... well, a few hours ago...).  It's a good will tour that WWE will be making over to our troops in Iraq over the holidays.  The announcers gloss over it, but this is a SD!-only initiative...

Backstage: Bischoff has decided to unveil his lumberjacks.  The present members of Evolution (Flair, Orton, Batista) are in... and manning the fourth side of the ring: the All-Powerful Mark Henry.  Bischoff empowers the four to use "any means necessary" to make sure nobody gets any free rest time outside the ring.  Teddy Long clarifies: that means they can beat the hell out of Goldberg, and it's all legal, b'lee dat.

Self-Promotion Time: JR and King hype the main event with footage of Kane vs. Goldberg from the SD! videogame. Then they hype the Armageddon line-up.  Then they hype how awesome the reunion of the Rock and Sock Connection was and how it means the RAW brand is both the Mack Daddy AND the Daddy Mack.  Then they continued an on-going gimmick of which of the Anaheim Pond's Luxury Boxes was home to HHH, delicious adult beverages, and probably some female companionship.  Because surely Ric Flair wouldn't lie to us about HHH being in the house, right?  Just keep telling yourself that...

Trish Stratus and Lita vs. ??????

The Women Scorned make their ring entrance, but for what reason?  Stay tuned.....


Trish Stratus/Lita vs. Molly Holly/Victoria

Match is joined in progress as we come back from the ad break. And in a counterpoint to the previous tag title match, Jericho and Christian were out to watch the match from the stage.  Though the announcers spend much of the match talking about storyline issues (such as the Jericho/Christian bet, and even more, the sheer unfairness of the Battle of the Sexes), I will grudgingly credit Jerry Lawler for not once veering into counter-productive territory, no matter how many down-blouse shots and suggestive positions we saw.  Maybe he sprained his Dirty Old Man Cortex when he held back from making the previous lecherous comment?  Whatever, for all my Lawler hating, it's only fair to tip the hat when he, for once, exercises restraint and stays relatively focused.  And none of my bending over backwards to credit Lawler should take away from the fact that in the ring, while the tangential-but-good commentary was taking place, we were getting a real nice little wrestling match.  Story was Trish starting the match, getting in a few moves, and then getting in trouble.  Molly and Victoria cut the ring in half, and for about 3 minutes, were in control.  Good teamwork, and Trish was definitely getting her ass kicked (giving the production team ample opportunity to cut to Jericho, who was ready with many variations on "That all you got, Trish?"). Eventually, the hot tag came to Lita, who cleaned house.  She was getting ready to finish off Molly when Matt Hardy materialized from out of nowhere.  This was enough to distract Lita, who got off balance after lunging at Matt, and also distracted the ref, who then turned his attention to telling Matt to get lost.  This was more than enough of an opening for Molly and Victoria to strike behind the ref's back.  They hit a double-team sidewalk slam, the ref turned around, and Molly got the pinfall win over Lita.  Matt gave Lita a "Take that" look of his own, while Jericho and Christian seemed generally pleased with this turn of events.  Probably my second favorite match of the night, after the opener: solid, if not spectacular, in terms of work, but it was the perfect length (maybe 4-5 minutes after the ad break) and was a tied into one of RAW's few actually-interesting feuds/storylines.  


Goldberg vs. Kane (World Title)

Lumberjacks are already around ringside when we come back.  Then Kane enters.  And then Goldberg, who immediately finds himself face to face with a wall of lumberjacks.  Goldberg pounds through them, and makes it into the ring, where Kane is actually able to take advantage of the lumberjack's speedbump.  He takes control, and quickly decides that tossing Goldberg out to ringside is a pretty cool idea.  The lumberjacks swarm and put a whupping on Goldberg before returning him to the ring. This basic process repeats about 3 times, I think, before Goldberg manages his comeback at the 4 minute mark.  And when he tosses Kane out to ringside, he is VERY pissed to find that the lumberjacks just back off and don't do anything.  So Goldberg goes out, starts beating up the lumberjacks, and returns Kane to the ring himself.  Inside the ring, Goldberg sets up the Spear, but the Lumberjacks have recovered from their beating, and decide they want revenge on Goldberg.  The ref calls for a DQ win for Goldberg as Orton, Batista, Flair, and Henry all hop in the ring and attack.  Maybe 5-6 minutes, and actually pretty effective because of the cheap heat and extracurriculars supplied by the lumberjack gimmick.  In terms of ringwork, though, I saw nothing to make me think that the Armageddon main event has any prospects of surpassing the "eh" barrier.

After the match: the 5-on-1 heel beatdown is on.  Until RVD came out, to try to get his hands on Orton.  But it was still 5-on-2 and the heels held on.  Until Booker came out to get him some of Mark Henry.  But it was still 5-on-3, so the heels held on.  Until Shawn Michaels ran out to remind us that somebody, somewhere though him feuding with Batista was a good idea.  But it was still 5-on-4, so... oh, wait, Michaels appearance means that the faces now have 2 main eventers on their side, to the heels 1, so the odds are probably pretty close to even.  The four heel lumberjacks are taken down by the faces, and then, when only Kane is left, HBK nails him with a superkick.  Kane does not go down, however... but he does stumble right into a Spear from Goldberg.  Yee haw, Goldberg celebrates to close the show.  

Final Thoughts

You have the Rock show up, do 15 minutes or so of top notch material, and guess what?  Unless you're an incurable smark, you're gonna get wrapped up in the entire show and have a pretty good time.  This was 2 hours of really good fun, as entertaining as anything RAW has delivered in the past month or so.

But it's also 2 of the least productive hours RAW has delivered in a while.  At least since last week.  HAR!  Seriously, though, in my column Monday, I tried to make the point that RAW had some work to do if they wanted to make Armageddon a sell-able card.  I also tried to make the point that I thought it was a job they could accomplish.  But in retrospect, I don't think RAW accomplished much of anything at all.  The only match they added to the show was the "Battle of the Sexes," which certainly has interesting storyline implications but which simply canNOT be a wrestling match.  It may succeed as a Sports Entertainment Segment, but that's not necessarily what I was hoping for RAW to throw onto the PPV card.  And the only of the pre-existing five matches that had ANYthing at ALL added to it was the IC Title match (Foley as the special ref opens up some interesting options).

If anything, the cheap-ish ending of the main event actually wound up being the start of my realization of just how fluffy-but-ultimately-pointless the preceding two hours had been:  putting all those guys in the ring was probably intended to be a reminder about four of the top PPV matches for Sunday.  Which mostly just served to remind me how little they've done to make me care about those matches.

This was a show that was like a Three Musketeers bar: loaded with tastiness, but also with nothing but empty calories.  You absolutely love it as it goes down, but an hour later, well, you wish you'd gotten something more.  Something different.  Something more substantial.  That's kind of what I'm feeling now, as I realize I still care very little about the vast majority of what's gonna happen next on RAW.

Goldberg/Kane/HHH: not one iota of effective storytelling has gone into this one. This is still basically predicated on Goldberg vs. HHH, with Kane seeming like a third wheel, even more so after his pointless dog-killing nonsense tonight.  I'm like you in that I have a certain appreciation for HHH-Lite shows... but c'mon, we needed SOMETHING to happen tonight to put some oomph behind this supposed PPV main event.  Honestly, if somebody out there has one single reason to be fired up for this three-way, I'd love to hear it.  Anything. I'm really at a loss.

Orton/RVD: the match that, at this point, is gonna have to save the card.  It's the closest thing to a convergence of in-ring potential with personalities and storylines people care about.  As noted, the addition of Foley only enhances that.

Michaels/Batista: a barely-compelling feud coming into RAW, this one also got no help this week.  Batista lacks the personality to express his motivations for this feud beyond generic heelish growling, and Michaels was only present for a 30 second cameo.

Booker/Henry: simply put, a train wreck waiting to happen.  Booker's a strong face, but not so strong that fans will get into a match with an uncompelling low-mid-card heel on the other wise.  Which is trouble when you realize the tenor of the match is going to require vast stretches of Henry's "methodical offense."  Remember, "methodical offense" is a euphemism, people.

Tag Team Turmoil: lazy on the storyline side to the extent that fans might have a tough time getting into any portion of this match not involving the Dudleys.  Ringwork could be good, yes.  But the structure of the match means this MIGHT (if the heat/sizzle isn't there) seem way bloated and over-long, like the six man tag felt to me on RAW.  [Seriously, about that: take away 3 minutes of Henry's chinlocks and give it to the tag title match, which was good, red hot with fans, and could have EASILY kept that momentum going for longer than the 5 minutes or so that they got.  Five minutes that seems all the more unconscionable when you realize the six man got 12 or more minutes, and squandered about half of them, in my opinion.]

And now, Battle of the Sexes is in: I'm not saying it won't be entertaining, but I am saying it won't entertain as a wrestling match.  However, the mere fact that I'm back on board with this angle (on a probationary basis) is a credit to RAW, as they didn't turn this into the lame storybook/movie cliché I'd feared...  Jericho is not a cardboard cutout, but rather a guy facing a Genuine Guy Dilemma: there's this girl that he's just realized could probably have his balls stashed away in her purse if only she'd ask...  and there's his guy buddy who can never, EVER know that this is the case because it would result in mocking and embarrassment.  I'll probably give the Battle of the Sexes the benefit of the doubt... they should be able to tell an decent little story about which of Jericho's two natures wins without resorting to crap.  I hope.  That's why I say probationary basis.  

This is simply not how I should feel about a PPV card following the last RAW before the show... unless Rock and Mick Foley are going to be wrestling La Resistance at Armageddon, I just don't see how you could point to any segment and say, "Hey, that one REALLY did its job, in the grand cosmic scheme"  OK, so you could point to the opening promo and tag match, since it was (a) very good on its own and (b) did set up the sixth and final match.  But other than that...  it's slim pickin's.  What was good tonight has no bearing on and does not convince me that more good will be included in what is to come.

I find myself thankful that RAW can bust out this Big Show Aura when it wants to, keeping me wholly entranced for two hours at a time.  I find myself less happy that, when those two hours are up, I realize that wowing me on Monday nights was accomplished by discarding the careful long term storytelling that seemed to permeate RAW during its October and into November surge in favor of spontaneously generating a few bells and whistles to throw at us as they go along.

But I'm getting further and further off track.  This is the RAW Recap.  And RAW was entertaining TV.  You should know that, and I shouldn't be trying to distract you from the fact.

Tomorrow will be a regular OO, the wrestling column where I can get all intellectual and theoretical and philosophical on your asses with my insightful Big Picture Approach.  So come on back for that.  If you love Armageddon bashing, that is.  Cuz I can already tell you that my plot is this: get bitchy and whiny and try to talk myself into thinking that Armageddon is going to be the worst PPV of all times, so that when it winds up being "mostly watchable," I'll be so happy and pleasantly surprised!

It's all part of the master plan.  So I'll see you tomorrow.


SMACKDOWN RECAP: Bonding Exercises
RAW RECAP: The New Guy Blows It
PPV RECAP: WWE Night of Champions 2012
RAW RECAP: The Show Must Go On
SMACKDOWN RECAP: The Boot Gets the Boot
RAW RECAP: Heyman Lands an Expansion Franchise
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Losing is the new Winning
RAW RECAP: Say My Name
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Deja Vu All Over Again
RAW RECAP: Dignity Before Gold?
PPV RECAP: SummerSlam 2012
RAW RECAP: Bigger IS Better
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Hitting with Two Strikes
RAW RECAP: Heel, or Tweener?
RAW RECAP: CM Punk is Not a Fan of Dwayne
SMACKDOWN RECAP: The Returnening
RAW RECAP: Countdown to 1000
PPV RECAP: WWE Money in the Bank 2012
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Friday Night ZackDown
RAW RECAP: Closure's a Bitch
RAW RECAP: Crazy Gets What Crazy Wants
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Five Surprising MitB Deposits
RAW RECAP: Weeeellll, It's a Big MitB
RAW RECAP: Johnny B. Gone
PPV RECAP: WWE No Way Out 2012
RAW RECAP: Crazy Go Nuts
RAW RECAP: Be a Star, My Ass
RAW RECAP: You Can't See Him
RAW RECAP: Big Johnny Still in Charge
PPV RECAP: WWE Over the Limit 2012
SMACKDOWN RECAP: One Gullible Fella
RAW RECAP: Anvil, or Red Herring?
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Everybody Hates Berto
RAW RECAP: Look Who's Back
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Care to go Best of Five?
RAW RECAP: An Ace Up His Sleeve
PPV RECAP: WWE Extreme Rules 2012
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Sh-Sh-Sheamus and the nOObs
RAW RECAP: Edge, the Motivational Speaker?
SMACKDOWN RECAP: AJ is Angry, Jilted
RAW RECAP: Maybe Cena DOES Suck?
RAW RECAP: Brock's a Jerk
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Back with a Bang
RAW RECAP: Yes! Yes! Yes!
PPV RECAP: WWE WrestleMania 28




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